Opposition leader executed

An opposition leader convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 was executed Thursday, a move that raised fears of new violence before next month’s elections.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — An opposition leader convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 was executed Thursday, a move that raised fears of new violence before next month’s elections.

Abdul Quader Mollah was hanged at 10:01 p.m., said Sheikh Yousuf Harun, chief government administrator in Dhaka, hours after the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal.

Mollah’s Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, immediately called a nationwide general strike for Sunday.

Hundreds of people gathered at a major intersection in Dhaka to celebrate the execution, saying it delivered justice for crimes committed four decades ago.

Mollah, 65, is the first person executed after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010 began trials for those suspected of crimes during the country’s nine-month fight for independence from Pakistan in 1971. The government says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the war.

Most of the defendants are opposition members.

In February, a special tribunal convicted Mollah of killing a student and a family of 11, and of aiding Pakistani troops in killing 369 other people in the war. He was sentenced to life in prison, but the Supreme Court changed that to a death sentence in September.

Until it gained independence in 1971, Bangladesh was the eastern wing of Pakistan. Mollah’s party campaigned against independence.

His execution had been placed on hold Tuesday night just before he originally was to have been put to death, but the court rejected his final appeal.

Jamaat-e-Islami, an ally of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, had warned of “dire consequences” if he were executed.

The two parties say the trials are an attempt to weaken the opposition and eliminate Islamic parties. Authorities have denied the allegations.

Security was tight around the jail in Dhaka where Mollah was hanged. Extra police were deployed along with paramilitary guards on the streets of the capital.

Earlier Thursday, party activists clashed with police, torching or smashing vehicles and setting off homemade bombs in the cities of Chittagong, Sylhet and Rajshahi, TV stations reported. Scores of people were injured in the South Asian country, which has seen weeks of escalating tension as it struggles to overcome extreme poverty and rancorous politics.

Security officials opened fire to disperse opposition activists in eastern Bangladesh, leaving at least three people dead and 15 others wounded, Dhaka’s leading Bengali-language newspaper, Prothom Alo, reported.

The violence broke out in Laxmipur district, 95 kilometres east of Dhaka, after elite security forces raided and searched the home of an opposition leader, the report said.

The execution complicates an already critical political situation in Bangladesh, where the opposition has carried out violent protests, demanding an independent caretaker government to oversee the Jan. 5 general election.

The government rejected that demand. An opposition alliance led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia plans to boycott the vote. Weeks of protests have left nearly 100 people dead since October.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP leader Rachel Notley is calling on the UCP to make a public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at Olymel. (Facebook screenshot)
Notley calls for Olymel inquiry as plant reopens

Union also asks for further consideration to delay opening

Protesters
UPDATE: Rally held outside Red Deer court for slain central Alberta man

Tyler John Campbell charged with second-degree murder for December 2019 homicide

Hog slaughter operations resumed on Thursday at Red Deer’s Olymel plant, which was closed for two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19 among workers. Three employee deaths resulted from the latest outbreak. (Advocate file photo).
Hog slaughtering operations gear up again at Red Deer’s Olymel plant

Workers begin to return after 14-day closure due to COVID-19 outbreak

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the greater lag time between first and second doses will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. (File photo)
Alberta extends time between vaccine doses means more people to get shot sooner

National Advisory Committee on Immunization says doses can be to up to four months apart

Canada’s Eliot Grondin looks on after competing in a men’s snowboard cross heat at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Grondin continued his strong season with his first career World Cup snowboard cross victory on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian Eliot Grondin captures gold at World Cup snowboard cross event

BAKURIANI, Georgia — Canada’s Eliot Grondin continued his strong season with his… Continue reading

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a vehicle rests on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. Detectives are looking at data from the so-called “black box” of Tiger Woods’ SUV to get a clearer picture of what occurred during the Southern California rollover crash last week that seriously injured the golf star, authorities said Wednesday, March 3. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Detectives look at SUV’s ‘black box’ from Tiger Woods crash

California law allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for data recorders

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Alex Kurtzman, from left, Heather Kadin, Anson Mount, Sonequa Martin-Green and Ethan Peck participate in the “Star Trek: Discovery” show panel during the CBS All Access presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif. Paramount+ debuts Thursday, March 4, 2021 as the latest — and last — streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. The company hopes its smorgasbord of offerings — live sports and news, reboots of its properties like “Frasier” and “Rugrats,” original shows like “Star Trek: Discovery” and the ViacomCBS library will entice viewers(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Will Paramount+ be a mountain or a molehill in streaming?

Over the last year and a half more and more streaming services have debuted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Most Read